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Constructing Grounded Theory (Kathy Charmaz, 2006)


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Book summary of 2006 book on Grounded Theory research by Kathy Charmaz. Offers practical insights on how to go about grounded theory research, coding methods, memo-writing, approaches of building theories, and general suggestions on writing a good qualitative research.

Published in: Data & Analytics

Constructing Grounded Theory (Kathy Charmaz, 2006)

  1. 1. K A T H Y C H A R M A Z Constructing Grounded Theory (Kathy Charmaz, 2006) 3/12/2015 1 Pavan Soni, IIM Bangalore
  2. 2. Grounded Theory Process 3/12/2015Pavan Soni, IIM Bangalore 2 Research Question Data Initial Coding Focused Coding Categories PropertiesCategories PropertiesCategories Properties Relationships Relationships Comparative Analysis Memo-writing (sorting/ diagramming / integrating) Theoretical Sampling Saturating Theoretical Categories Theoretical Statements Ethnography Intensive Interviewing Textual Analysis Line-by-line coding Comparing incidents Axial/ Theoretical coding
  3. 3. Summary of content 3/12/2015Pavan Soni, IIM Bangalore 3 I. An invitation to Grounded Theory II. Gathering rich data III. Coding in Grounded Theory practice IV. Memo-writing V. Theoretical sampling, saturation, and sorting VI. Reconstructing theory in Grounded Theory studies VII. Writing the draft VIII.Reflecting on the research process
  4. 4. I. An invitation (1/2) 3/12/2015Pavan Soni, IIM Bangalore 4 Grounded theory offers general principles and heuristics devices rather than formal rules  Theory is grounded in data itself  Through making and coding numerous comparisons  Studying data  comparing them  writing memos  More useful than quantitative research for theory generation  Appropriate for mid-range theory generation  Most are substantive (not formal) theories  Against the positivistic quantitative research  Construction, instead of discovery, of grounded theory  Not to force a data into a preconceived notion (as in logico- deductive research method)  Moving back-and-forth between data and analysis
  5. 5. I. An invitation (2/2) 3/12/2015Pavan Soni, IIM Bangalore 5 Defining components of grounded theory research (Glaser and Strauss, 1967)  Simultaneous involvement in data collection and analysis  Constructing analytical codes and categories from data,, not from preconceived logically deduced hypothesis  Using the constant comparative method, which involves making comparisons during each stage of the analysis  Advancing theory development during each step of data collection and analysis  Memo-writing to elaborate categories, specify their properties, define relationships between categories and identify gaps  Sampling aimed towards theory construction, not for population representativeness  Conducting the literature view after developing an independent analysis
  6. 6. II. Gathering rich data (1/6) 3/12/2015Pavan Soni, IIM Bangalore 6  Reach for quality (interpretive qualitative method)  Sufficient background data,  Detailed description  Relevance and sufficiency  Multiple views  Usefulness in developing analytical categories  Useful comparisons  Key questions  What’s happening here?  What are the basic social processes?  What are the basic social psychological processes?
  7. 7. II. Gathering rich data (2/6) 3/12/2015Pavan Soni, IIM Bangalore 7 Data construction approach  Attending to actions and processes as well as to words  Delineating the context, scenes, and situations of action carefully  Recording who did what, when it occurred, why it happened, and how it occurred  Identifying the conditions under which specific actions, intentions, and processes emerge or are muted  Looking for ways to interpret these data  Focus on specific words and phrases to which participants seem to attribute particular meaning  Finding taken-for-granted and hidden assumptions of various participants, showing how they are revealed through and after actions
  8. 8. II. Gathering rich data (3/6) 3/12/2015Pavan Soni, IIM Bangalore 8 Tenets of ethnographic research  Record individual and collective actions  Contain full, detailed notes with anecdotes and observations  Emphasize significant processes occurring in the setting  Address what participants define as interesting and/or problematic  Attend to participants language use  Place actors and actions in scenes and contexts  Become progressively focused on key analytic ideas In grounded theory, researcher gives priority to studied phenomenon or process, rather than the setting itself
  9. 9. II. Gathering rich data (4/6) 3/12/2015Pavan Soni, IIM Bangalore 9 Grounded theory can discipline ethnographers by helping them to  Compare data with data from the beginning of research, not after all the data is collected  To compare data with emerging categories  To demonstrate relations between concepts and categories It helps build systematic checks into both data collection and analysis . The approach is as follows: Seek data  describe observed events  answer fundamental questions about what is happening  develop theoretical categories to understand data
  10. 10. II. Gathering rich data (5/6) 3/12/2015Pavan Soni, IIM Bangalore 10 Intensive interviewing permits an in-depth exploration of a particular topic with a person who has had the relevant experience. Best to have a few broad, open-ended questions. An interview is contextual and negotiated. Never to force interviewees responses into preconceived categories. Pay attention to responders’ language. Remaining alert to interesting leads. Interviews in grounded research are open-ended yet directed, shaped yet emergent, and paced yet flexible.
  11. 11. II. Gathering rich data (6/6) 3/12/2015Pavan Soni, IIM Bangalore 11 Forms of textual analysis could include  Elicited text (research participants writing the data, e.g. Internet questionnaire, logs, diaries, etc)  Extant text (researcher don’t affect their construction, e.g. public records, mass media, corporate documents, archive material, etc)  Studying text (putting context back in the text, useful for analytical scrutiny, and not just corroborative evidence)
  12. 12. III. Coding in grounded theory practice (1/7) 3/12/2015Pavan Soni, IIM Bangalore 12 Qualitative coding is the first step. Coding means categorizing segments of data with a short name that simultaneously summarizes and accounts for each piece of data. Codes show how to select, separate, and sort data to begin an analytical accounting of them. Coding asks ‘which theoretical categories might these statements indicate?’ Coding offers the analytical frame for further research. Coding is the pivotal link between collecting data and developing an emergent theory to explain these data. It helps develop  Generalizable theoretical statements that transcend specific time and place  Contextual analysis of actions and events.
  13. 13. III. Coding in grounded theory practice (2/7) 3/12/2015Pavan Soni, IIM Bangalore 13 Two main phases of coding  Initial phase involving naming each word, line, or segment of data, followed by  A focused, selective phase that uses the most significant and frequent initial codes to sort, synthesize, integrate, and organize large amounts of data Codes emerge as you scrutinize your data and define meaning with it. Unlike quantitative research, there is not preconceived categories or codes available. The process of coding produces certain tension between analytic insights and described events.
  14. 14. III. Coding in grounded theory practice (3/7) 3/12/2015Pavan Soni, IIM Bangalore 14 Initial coding Code for coding  Remain open  Stay close to the data  Keep your codes simple and precise  Construct short codes  Preserve actions  Compare data with data  Move quickly through the data Code with words that reflect actions. Adopt an open approach to coding. Initial codes are provisional, comparative, and grounded in the data. Simultaneous data collection and analysis. Need for speed and spontaneity. Keep codes short, simple, active and analytic. • Word-by-word coding • Line-by-line coding • Segment-by-segment • Incident-by-incident coding
  15. 15. III. Coding in grounded theory practice (4/7) 3/12/2015Pavan Soni, IIM Bangalore 15 Line-by-line coding Means naming each line of the data. Useful for fundamental empirical data or processes, and detailed observations with telling and consequential scenes. Coding leads to developing theoretical categories. Line-by-line coding offers fresh insights, and leads to pursue. Incident-to-incident coding A comparative study of incidents. Comparative methods help see and make sense of observations in new, analytical ways. Comparing dissimilar events may offer further insights. Making sequential comparison is important for grounded theory generation Word-by-word and line-by-line coding helps see the familiar in new insights, while incident aids in discovering patterns and contrasts.
  16. 16. III. Coding in grounded theory practice (5/7) 3/12/2015Pavan Soni, IIM Bangalore 16 In-vivo codes Refers to codes of participants’ special terms, including  General terms everyone knows that flag condensed but significant meaning  A participant’s innovative terms that captures meaning or experience  Insider shorthand terms specific to a particular group that reflect their perspectives In-vivo codes reflect assumptions, actions, and imperatives that frame actions
  17. 17. III. Coding in grounded theory practice (6/7) 3/12/2015Pavan Soni, IIM Bangalore 17 Focused coding Means using the most significant and/or frequent earlier codes to sift through large amount of data. But moving to focused coding is not entirely a linear process. Coding is an emergent process, and calls for a concentrated, active involvement in the process. Data to data comparison helps develop focused codes, and then these codes are further compared with data for further refinement. Axial coding Specifies the properties and dimensions of a category. Is a strategy for bringing data back together again in a coherent whole, and help answer ‘when, where, why, who, how, and with what consequences’ Aims to identify conditions, actions/ interactions, and consequences. However, axial coding can make grounded theory cumbersome.
  18. 18. III. Coding in grounded theory practice (7/7) 3/12/2015Pavan Soni, IIM Bangalore 18 Theoretical coding A sophisticated level of coding that follows the codes selected during the focused coding. It is about how substantive codes relate to each other as hypothesis to be integrated into a theory. It precludes the necessity of axial coding. Coding families (theoretical categories) are neither mutually exclusive, not collectively exhaustive Coding full interview transcripts offers ideas and understandings that one otherwise might miss.
  19. 19. IV. Memo writing (1/3) 3/12/2015Pavan Soni, IIM Bangalore 19 A memo is a informal analytical note that prompts a researcher to analyze data and codes earlier in the research process. A memo forms the core of grounded theory It helps increase the level of abstraction of ideas. Memos are generally free and flowing, short and stilted, but must be written immediately in the field, or on coming back Memo writing encourage digging into the implicit, unstated, and condensed meanings. Much of the memo writing is concerned with making comparisons. Can help release from the structures of formal academic writing. Useful pre-writing exercises include: clustering (or mind mapping), and freewriting.
  20. 20. IV. Memo writing (2/3) 3/12/2015Pavan Soni, IIM Bangalore 20 Content of a memo  Define each code or category by its analytical properties  Spell out and detail processes subsumed by codes or categories  Make comparisons between data and data, data and codes, codes and codes, codes and categories, and categories and categories  Bring raw data into the memo  Provide sufficient empirical evidence to support your definition of the category and analytical claims about it  Offer conjectures to check in the field settings  Identify gaps in the analysis  Interrogate a code or category by asking questions of it.
  21. 21. IV. Memo writing (3/3) 3/12/2015Pavan Soni, IIM Bangalore 21 Raising focused codes into categories Here a category is a conceptual element in a theory. Memo writing helps doing this by  Giving conceptual categories definitions  Categories can subsume common themes and patterns of several codes.  Make a category as conceptual as possible by abstract power, general reach, analytical direction, and precise wording. A memo should  Define the category  Explicate the properties of the category  Explain the conditions under which the category arises, in maintained and changes  Describe its consequences  Show how this category relates to other categories Key is to draw comparisons at multiple levels to define a category sharply.
  22. 22. V. Theoretical sampling, saturation, and sorting (1/4) 3/12/2015Pavan Soni, IIM Bangalore 22 Theoretical sampling means seeking and collecting pertinent data to elaborate and refine categories in the emerging theory Approach is to saturate the category with data and subsequently sort and/or diagram them to integrate the emerging theory. Theoretical sampling pertains only to conceptual and theoretical development, it is not about representing a population or increasing the statistical generalizability of results. It involves starting with data, constructing tentative ideas about the data, and then examining these ideas through further empirical inquiry. Memo writing leads to theoretical sampling. Is not same as unfocused data collection. Abductive reasoning about data starts with data and moves towards hypothesis formation, while considering all possible theoretical explanation of data
  23. 23. V. Theoretical sampling, saturation, and sorting (2/4) 3/12/2015Pavan Soni, IIM Bangalore 23 Theoretical sampling helps to  Delineate the properties of a category  Check hunches about a category  Saturate the properties of a category  Distinguish between categories  Clarify relationships between emerging categories  Identify variation in a process Theoretical sampling is emergent. Helps discover variation across theoretical categories. Helps move between targeted data collection and analytic memo-writing
  24. 24. V. Theoretical sampling, saturation, and sorting (3/4) 3/12/2015Pavan Soni, IIM Bangalore 24 Saturating a theoretical category happens when gathering fresh data no longer sparks new theoretical insights, nor reveals new properties of core theoretical categories. Glaser (2001: 191) says Saturation is not seeing the same pattern over and over again. It is the conceptualization of comparisons of these incidences which yield different properties of the pattern, until no new properties of the pattern emerge. This yields the conceptual density that when integrated into hypothesis makes up the body of generated grounded theory with theoretical completeness
  25. 25. V. Theoretical sampling, saturation, and sorting (4/4) 3/12/2015Pavan Soni, IIM Bangalore 25 Sorting, diagramming, and integrating memo are approaches of theory generation. Sorting helps make analysis progressively stronger, clearer, and more theoretical. It helps compare categories at an abstract level. Approach involved is  Sort memos by the title of each category  Compare categories  Use categories carefully  Consider how their order reflects the studied experience  How their order fits the logic of categories  Create the best possible balance between the studied experience, category, and theoretical statements about it Diagramming helps generate a visual representation of categories and their relationships. A conditional/consequential matrix could be useful here. Integrating helps forge causal linkages.
  26. 26. VI. Reconstructing theory in grounded theory research (1/2) 3/12/2015Pavan Soni, IIM Bangalore 26 What is theory? Positivist definitions of theory treat is as a statement of relationships between abstract concepts that cover a wide range of empirical observations. It emphasizes on explanation and prediction. These are elegant in their form, and direct in their statements. Interpretive definitions of theory emphasize understanding rather than explanation. It is interpretation of the studied phenomenon, rather than strict causality , and hence have a far-ranging scope, wide applications, and deals with fundamental issues of life. Grounded theory contains both positive and interpretive inclinations.
  27. 27. VI. Reconstructing theory in grounded theory research (2/2) 3/12/2015Pavan Soni, IIM Bangalore 27 Constructivist grounded theory is a part of the interpretive tradition. In this view, any analysis is contextually situated in time, place, culture and situation. Objectivist grounded theory derives from positivism, and thus attends to data as representing objective reality. The data is rendered objective by looking at many cases. Grounded theory produces empirical generalizations that lead to generic explanations abstracted from time and place. Adopting gerunds fosters theoretical sensitivity.
  28. 28. VII. Writing the draft (1/2) 3/12/2015Pavan Soni, IIM Bangalore 28  Let ideas emerge before making decisions about what to do with the manuscript  Writing analysis entails more than mere reporting  Writers must address the ‘so what’ question with a strong argument  Scrutinize categories repeatedly for power, purpose and patterns  Use categories are tools to build context  Literature review provides a place to engage the ideas and research in the areas that the grounded theory addresses
  29. 29. VII. Writing the draft (2/2) 3/12/2015Pavan Soni, IIM Bangalore 29 Questions the draft must answer  Are the definition of major categories complete?  Have I raised major categories to concepts in my theory?  How have I increased the scope and depth of my analysis in this draft?  Have I established strong theoretical links between categories, and between categories and their properties, in addition to the data?  How have I increased understanding of the studied phenomenon?  What are the implications of this analysis for moving theoretical edges? For its theoretical reach and breadth? For methods? For substantive knowledge? For actions or interventions?  With which theoretical, substantive, or practical problem is this analysis most closely aligned? What audience might be more interested in it? Where shall I go with it?  How does my theory make a fresh contribution?
  30. 30. VIII. Reflecting on the research process 3/12/2015Pavan Soni, IIM Bangalore 30  Grounded theory gives us analytical tools and methodological strategies that we can adopt without endorsing a prescribed theory of knowledge or view of reality.  Successive levels of abstraction through comparative analysis constitute the core of grounded theory analysis.  Important parameters for evaluation are: credibility, originality, resonance, and usefulness.